Ceanothus americanus - VNPS 2019 Wildflower of the Year - Photo by Betty Truax
Ceanothus americanus - VNPS 2019 Wildflower of the Year - Photo by Betty Truax
VNPS 2020 Research Grant Application Period Opens January 1, 2020
Online Auction Now Open

Support the VNPS
Natural Area Preserves Fund

Support the VNPS
Natural Area Preserves Fund

Online Auction For The
Natural Area Preserves Fund

© Gary P. Fleming, VA DCR-DNR with permission

In the Summer, 2021 Sempervirens

In the Summer, 2021 Sempervirens

A new Natural Area Preserve at Difficult Creek, Virginia's Invasive Plant Work Group, the species of Wisteria, a profile of botanist Tom Wieboldt, and more.

Grassland restoration at Difficult Creek Natural Area Preserve - Photo by Chris Ludwig

Action Alert: Invasive Plants Study Legislation

House Joint Resolution No. 527
will help guide Virginia in controlling
the sale and use of invasive plants.

House Joint Resolution No. 527
will help guide Virginia in controlling
the sale and use of invasive plants.

House Joint Resolution No. 527
will help guide Virginia in controlling
the sale and use of invasive plants.

2021 WOY American Wisteria
2021
Wildflower of the Year
American Wisteria
(Wisteria frutescens)

Eupatorium at Bull Run
Heading layer

Eupatorium at Bull Run

Eupatorium at Bull Run

Eupatorium at Bull Run

Photo by Brigitte Hartke

Photo by Brigitte Hartke

Photo by Brigitte Hartke

Early Explorations of Elephant Ears (Magnolia macrophylla): A Personal Note

Early Explorations of
Elephant Ears
(Magnolia macrophylla)

Early Explorations of
Elephant Ears
(Magnolia macrophylla)

Early Explorations of
Elephant Ears
(Magnolia macrophylla)

A Personal Note

A Personal Note

A Personal Note

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News & Updates

Check out our Online Auction for the Natural Areas Preserves Fund starting on Monday, November 15.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #84: Clues: In a wetland, what has cigar-shaped flower heads among tall leaves? View photos and last week's answer.

• Seven new educational videos about the Flora of Virginia are now available. Watch the videos on the VNPS Vimeo page.

• Did you miss our 2021 Annual Meeting on September 17-18? Watch the recorded videos including presentations by Nikki Rovner of the Nature Conservancy and Jason Bulluck and Rob Evans of Virginia's Natural Heritage Program.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #76: Do you know the flowering plant with tall golden plumes which fills a sunny meadow? View the photos and last week's answer.

• Be sure to read the Summer 2021 edition of Sempervirens : a new Natural Area Preserve at Difficult Creek, updates on Virginia's Invasive Plant Working Group, the species of Wisteria, a profile of botanist Tom Wieboldt, and more.

• Check the latest updates on Virginia's actions to phase out the sale and use of Invasive plants. View information about the Invasive Plant Working Group activities.

• Statement on Cultivars. Read the Statement recently adopted by the VNPS Board of Directors.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #75: A short wand shines paler than its sister species. View the photos of this plant and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #74: Can you identify this plant with odd purplish flowers which bloom on a tall candelabrum? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #72: This flower's purple-blue shimmer brightens the late-summer meadow. What is it?  See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #71: This "gentle giant" has huge leaves and umbels. Do you know it?  See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #70: This flower's wands of white flowers droop over a marsh. What do you think it is?  See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #69:  Gay yellow flowers give way to fat black pods. What do you think? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #68: Can you identify this small white flower which corkscrews up a slender wand?  See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #67: This deep-rooted sun-lover has brilliant orange-yellow flowers. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #66: This well-defended native has two quite different kinds of flowers. Know what it is? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #65: Tall, graceful tapers light up the shady woodland. Do you know it's name? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #64: This wetland shrub has a flamboyant, musky, five-petaled flower. Do you know it's name? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #63: A relative of coffee, this opposite-leaved shrub loves wet places. What is itSee photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #62: This delicious wildflower blooms on thorny pads. Do you know itSee photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #61: This littlest member of the bellflowers might grace your yard in early summer. Can you identify itSee photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflowers of the Week #58, #59, & #60: We provide the clues - can you identify the native plants? See all our weekly questions6-6-2021

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #57: A cloud of strappy petals haloes this member of the Olive family. What is itSee photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #56: White spots might spatter this plant's lobed leaves. What do you think it is? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #55: Hooded flowers form a sort of pinwheel over ferny leaves. Can you identify it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #54: This delicate white flower has curvaceous basal leaves. Can you identify it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #53: Gray-green leaves catch your eye before the little ruffled flowers bloom. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #52: This spicy beauty lies low on the forest floor. Do you know what it is? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #51: In the marsh, big yellow flowers glow above heart-shaped leaves. Do you know what it is? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #50: White flowers rise from a stone ledge in very early spring. Do you know what it is? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #49: You might mistake this woodland wildflower for a pine cone or an ear of corn. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #48: This low-lying plant in the Heath family is a promise of Spring. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Did you miss any of the 2021 VNPS Annual Workshop sessions on March 2 and March 9? Watch the recorded videos now. 3/10/2021

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #47: This plant's long golden catkins dangle at the water’s edge. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Did you miss the VNPS Annual Workshop Day 1 presentations on March 2? Watch the Workshop video recordings now at https://vimeo.com/vnps. 3/5/2021

Action Alert Update: House Joint Resolution (HJ 527) was approved by the Virginia House and Senate and is awaiting Governor Northam's signature. 2/17/2021

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #46: This small rock-loving fern has once-cut fronds. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #45: Corky ridges and warts cover the trunk. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #44: This shrub or small tree in the Rose family has unbranched spines. See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #43: This shrub or small tree in the Rose family has unbranched spines. See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #42: This lover of wet ground shows very different fronds in summer and winter. See photos and last week's answer.

Action Alert Update: House Joint Resolution (HJ 527) was approved by the House and will go to the Senate for a vote. View VNPS President Nancy Vehrs testimony before the Studies Subcommittee of the House Rules Committee and skip forward to about 08:28 AM.  1/26/2021

What's being done to protect Virginia's plants? In his video presentation on January 13, Chris Ludwig examined the mounting threats to our native flora and show what’s being done to mitigate these risks. 1/1/2021

• Cathy Mayes Memorial Fund: The Piedmont Chapter has formed a partnership with the Clifton Institute near Warrenton to honor the memory of Cathy Mayes. See more about the Memorial Fund and how to donate in Cathy's memory. 12/20/2020

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #41: This twining vine has distinctive three-bladed capsules. See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #39: This little evergreen vine in the Madder family brightens the winter woods. See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #38: Brilliant, densely packed red berries stand out dramatically on bare branches. See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #37: In an old field or in your living room at Christmas, this familiar tree has much to give. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #35: Don’t sample this alluring yellow fruit in the Nightshade family. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #34: Look upward to find this native shrub clasping its host tree. What is it? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #33: This widespread low tree or tall shrub in the Cashew family comes into its own in the fall. What is it? See photos and last week's answer. 11/28/202

Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #32: A member of the Evening primrose family holds seeds in marvelous capsules. What is it? See photos and last week's answer. 11/22/2020

Read about Red Chokeberry that shines in all seasons in Betsy Washington's latest blog post. 11/9/2020

• A study funded by a VNPS Research Grant to Dr. Andrea Weeks at George Mason University aims to restore and recover native plant diversity at Gilbert's Corner in Loudoun County. Register for Dr. Weeks' Zoom presentation on her project on November 15. 11/6/2020

Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #30: In November, this plant's berries seem to stare back at you. Handle with care! See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #29: This shrubby tree has flowers with four strappy yellow petals. Look for them around Halloween. See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #28: These small yellow flowers shine on shallow river shorelines - what are they? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #27: Show-stopper in the fall, with scarlet leaves and dark blue fruit? See photos and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #26: This mint family member has tiny bluish flowers and a sharp aroma. See photos and last week's answer. 10/10/2020

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #25: Graceful white sprays of these odd flowers appear above a whorl of three leaves. See a photo and last week's answer.

• Goldenrod Glows in the Fall: Read our latest blog post about this Fall beauty.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #24: This super-strong member of the daisy family holds its clusters of brilliant magenta or purple flowers as much as ten feet high. See a photo and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Chapter Wildflower of the Week #23: What is a leathery evergreen fern with spores in tan globes? See a photo and last week's answer.

VNPS Guidance for Walks and In-Person Events during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

• Wildflower of the Week #22: In the Mint family with squarish heads of packed purple flowers? See a photo and last week's answer.

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #21: Can you identify a member of the Bellflower family with thick spires of violet-blue? See a photo and last week's answer.

Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #19: What wispy grass lends a purple haze to a whole field when blooming? See a photo and last week's answer. 8/21/2020

The (Northern) Piedmont Native Plants guide is back in stock. Check out all the regional native plant guides available for download and print copy purchase. 8/17/2020

• Piedmont Wildflower of the Week #18: A yellow flower in the bean family, tall patches in meadows, pods turn black in fall. Do you know the name?  8/15/2020

Piedmont Chapter Wildflower of the Week #17: Evergreen leaves, silvery veins, tiny hairs cover the flowers. What is it? 8/9/2020

• Passionflower Pops in Summer: Read Betsy Washington's new blog post from the Northern Neck. 7/30/2020

• Piedmont Wildflower of the WeekWhat is this fragrant member of the Onograceae family that shines best at sunset? 7/25/2020

• New Video: Marion Lobstein and Sally Anderson present an Overview and How To on the Flora of Virginia Mobile App. 7/13/2020

• The Atlantic Coast Pipeline project has been canceled. See more about opposition to the project and the VNPS Resolution opposing the project. 7/5/2020

• VNPS Guidance for Walks/Events during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The health and safety of our members is very important to us. Time out-of-doors is part of a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. However, during this COVID-19 pandemic, we must be mindful of the importance of social distancing to minimize the spread of the disease. For example, during regular guided native plant or botanical walks, participants often gather around a specific plant as the leader discusses it. Therefore, we recommend erring on the side of caution and suspending guided group walks until health conditions in your area permit such gatherings. Please follow the recommendations of the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health.

While we will leave the decision to chapter leaders about holding walks, the VNPS suggests virtual or self-guided walks and events in the interim. For example, some chapters have flagged walks, virtual walks, Zoom presentations, flower of the week emails, and more to engage the public. 6/10/2020

The Summer 2020 edition of Sempervirens is now online. Read about the pandemic's challenges and changes for the Natural Heritage Program and for VNPS events and activities, and how nature offers solace for us all. Meet our Conservation Chair Alex Fisher and learn about the autecology of Wild Geranium by Botany Chair John Hayden. 5/22/2020

• The First 10 Years of VNPS: How We Began. This account of VNPS and Potowmack Chapter beginnings shows that volunteers can make a difference with knowledgeable leaders, willing associates and continuity of purpose. 5/12/20

Pinxterblooms: Performing Now! Read Betsy Washington's latest blog post. 4-23-20

25 Years of the VNPS Bulletin Are Now Online. We just added almost all issues of the Bulletin from 1989 to 2009 thanks to the Internet Archive. Be sure to browse our updated Bulletin Archive. 4/18/20

• Due to CDC recommendations and other ongoing closures related to the Coronavirus outbreak, we have cancelled the March 14, 2020 event ‘Earth’s Climate: Present, Past & Future'.  We regret having to make this decision, and hope to be able to offer this program at another time. We will refund registration fees. [More information] 3/11/2020

• The Spring 2020 edition of Sempervirens is now available. Read about our upcoming Annual Meeting in Abingdon, the VNPS Mission, and more. 3/3/2020

• An updated version of the popular Wildflowers for Butterfly Gardens brochure is now available to download. 2/19/2020

• VNPS Funded Research Reveals Which Trees are Dying and Why. 12/29/2019

• Piedmont Chapter Curlyheads Flower T-Shirts are now available for sale! These are beautiful shirts though in limited quantities. 10/24/2019

• VNPS Member Harry Glasgow Honored by Prince William Conservation Alliance.

• The VNPS mourns the loss of its founder, Mary Painter, on October 6, 2019. View more information and Mary's obituary.

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Baldcypress: Towering Virginia Icon

November 21, 2021 |

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Baldcypress, Taxodium distichum, our November Plant of the Month, is an unforgettable sight all year. But in late fall when its soft foliage turns vibrant shades of copper-orange, it lights up the entire landscape. These trees are called “bald” because, unlike most other conifers, they are deciduous and lose…

Read More

My Journey With the Flora of Virginia

September 16, 2021 |

By Marion Lobstein My interest in plants goes back to my childhood exploring and earning Girl Scout nature badges. As an undergraduate at Western Carolina University in the 1960s, I took my first plant identification class and really got hooked. Later, At UNC-Chapel Hill, I had the opportunity to take a plant taxonomy class with…

Read More

Narrow-leaf Mountain Mint: Pollinator Magnet

September 1, 2021 |

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter All of the species of Mountain-mints are virtual pollinator and butterfly magnets! They are always “humming” with butterflies and pollinators and their handsome foliage and long-lasting flowers make them summer garden stars. Of the twelve species in Virginia, Narrow-leaf Mountain-Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) is certainly one of the most attractive…

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Tom Wieboldt: Profile of a Virginia Botanist

August 18, 2021 |

An Interview with Tom Wieboldt by Nancy Vehrs Tom Wieboldt retired five years ago as the longtime curator for the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech. He grew up on a farm near Covesville in Albemarle County and currently lives in Giles County just west of Blacksburg with Ali, his wife of 38 years. They have…

Read More

Showy Swamp Rose

July 4, 2021 |

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter June is always an exciting month in the many freshwater wetlands in the Northern Neck and beyond as many plants come into bloom. And one of the showiest blooms belongs to our beautiful Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris, an upright, deciduous shrub typically reaching 3 – 6’ high and wide,…

Read More

Blue-Eyed Grass Blooms for Bees and Butterflies

May 17, 2021 |

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Narrow-leaved Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is a lovely small perennial typically reaching only 6 – 12” high and wide but in late spring it lights up the landscape wherever it grows. This is a “grass” only in name as it is a member of the Iris family, with linear,…

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Marsh Marigold: A Spring Tonic

April 26, 2021 |

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter Today, the first day of April, has dawned cold with rain and winds after a week of mild weather, and I seek solace in the first harbingers of spring. A hike to Cabin Swamp in Hickory Hollow Natural Area Preserve is just the spring tonic needed. Sure enough, the…

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Redbud is Ready for Spring

March 25, 2021 |

By Betsy Washington, Northern Neck Chapter As signs of spring fill the air, I find myself eagerly anticipating the vibrant magenta pink blooms of one of our most beautiful flowering trees, the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis). This small tree is a common sight along roadsides, woodland edges, and old fields in Virginia in late March…

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Beyond the Field – Enter

March 9, 2021 |

By Nicola McGoff, Jefferson Chapter You drive by it every day, without notice. It is just a field. An ordinary everyday field. Square shaped or almost anyway, with very defined boundaries. Manmade boundaries stretching back through time. The sedentary, fallow field. Static and uninviting for most. A place where utility trumps esthetic. Perchance, one day…

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Phasing Out the Sale and Use of Invasive Plants

February 18, 2021 |

Virginia House Joint Resolution 527, approved unanimously in 2021, calls for a study that will explore options for phasing out the sale and use of invasive plants in Virginia’s horticultural industry, and to promote the sale and use of native plants. The study may include potential legislative action to be brought to the 2022 General…

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Skunk Cabbage Secrets

February 17, 2021 |

By Nancy Sorrells On this winter weather Valentine’s Day I decided to journey back into the forest behind our property to the secret place I know where the globally rare Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata) grows. Today’s visit was not to see Swamp Pink, which is still sleeping and will not send up its amazing pink…

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Wildflower of the Year 2021 American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)

February 5, 2021 |

Wisteria frutescens is a woody liana, potentially growing to heights of 15 m; young stems are smooth or covered with small hairs pressed tightly to the stem surface. Stems climb by twining around supports in a clockwise direction. Leaves are alternate and odd-pinnately compound, 10—30 cm long. Leaves may have from 5 to 15 leaflets…

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